Excitement abounds – salmon season opens Saturday

Garberville resident Broc Contreras landed a nice salmon this week while fishing out of Shelter Cove. The ocean sport salmon season from Shelter Cove north to the CA/OR border will open on Saturday and run through Aug. 9. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

The crown jewel of our ocean fishing season will kick off on Saturday, and it couldn’t come at a better time. To say we could use a break or a distraction from what’s happening in the world would be an understatement. Though the effects of the on-going pandemic and protesting will likely take a little luster off the opener, there will be plenty of full boats loaded with smiling anglers headed out come Saturday morning. What will they find? No one knows for sure, but I like what I’m hearing from our surrounding ports. The bite out of Shelter Cove picked up this week, and the grade of fish was excellent. Though not open until Saturday, there’s been quite a few salmon caught incidentally in Crescent City by boats targeting rockfish and anglers fishing close to the beach for CA halibut. In the Eureka area, the nearshore water temperatures have cooled to a salmon-friendly 52-53 degrees, and there appears to be plenty of birds and bait. All signs are pointing towards a very good opener, and boy can we use it.

Weekend Marine Forecast
If the forecast holds, salmon anglers should get in a decent weekend of fishing. Saturday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the W 5 to 10 knots and waves W 5 feet at 10 seconds. The forecast is a little rougher on Sunday, with winds coming out of the NW 5 to 10 knots and W waves 7 feet at 10 seconds. A chance of showers is in the forecast for Saturday. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Use extreme caution when crossing Humboldt Bar
There could be potential early morning hazardous bar conditions beginning on Saturday due to the combination of tides and swells converging at the time when boats could be headed out the entrance. For the salmon opener on Saturday, 8 feet. of water will be flowing out down to a -2.0 feet at 7:03 a.m. You should always error on the side of caution — even if it means waiting until the out-flowing water from the bay has slowed, which usually occurs within 30 to 45 minutes prior to the tide bottoming out. Recreational anglers can provide bar reports on VHF channel 68 while the Coast Guard emergency channel is 16 on the VHF. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. The bar cam, located at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/barCam/?cam=humboldtBayBar, remains off line.

Weekend tides
The tidal exchanges will be big this weekend, with minus tides in the morning making for a potentially dangerous bar crossing.

Saturday June 6: High: 12:02 a.m. (8.0) and Low: 7:03 a.m. (-2.0 ft.), High 1:51 p.m. (5.6 ft.) and Low 6:44 p.m. (2.6 ft.)

Sunday June 7: High: 12:46 a.m. (7.8) and Low: 7:49 a.m. (-1.9 ft.), High 2:43 p.m. (5.6 ft.) and Low 7:34 p.m. (2.8 ft.)

General sport salmon regulations:
Our 2020 ocean sport salmon season runs from June 6 through August 9 and is open from the OR/CA border south to Horse Mountain, (Klamath Management Zone). Fishing is allowed seven days per week for all salmon except Coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 20 inches total length for Chinook. The possession is no more than two daily bag limits in possession while on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. No salmon punch card is required for ocean salmon fishing. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon#recreational or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429.

Big Salmon Contest
Eureka’s Englund Marine will be holding its BIG FISH Salmon Contest again this year. The annual event runs from June 6 to August 9. There is no entry fee and you can enter as many fish as you’d like. Salmon need to be gutted and gilled. Prizes will be awarded to the top three fish. A complete list of rules and regulations are available at Englund Marine, 2 Commercial St., Eureka, 707-444-9266.

RMI Outdoors fishing contest
RMI Outdoors of Eureka will be holding their second Screamin’ Reels fishing contest beginning on June 6 and running through Aug. 9. There are three categories: ocean salmon, Pacific halibut, and California halibut. You can enter up to six fish per day: two ocean salmon, three CA halibut, and one Pacific halibut per day. An RMI Outdoors associate will weigh your catch, fill out an entry form, and take your picture for the brag wall. All salmon must be gutted and gilled; anglers must have a valid 2020 fishing license; Fish and Wildlife regulations apply. Each angler that brings in a fish has a chance to win a $100 RMI Gift Card. Visit https://www.facebook.com/RMIOutdoors

Fish for free this weekend in Oregon
Oregon will be having a Free Fishing Weekend on June 6 and 7. On those two days, no license, tag or endorsement is required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. This applies only to waters already open to fishing, crabbing or clamming. All other regulations, such as bag limits, still apply. Visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/06_June/060320b.asp for more info.

The Oceans:
“The Eureka fleet hasn’t been offshore since last Thursday,” said Skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The wind has been blowing and it’s just been too rough. When we did get out, the halibut bit pretty well. There were some limits caught on the 48-line in 300 feet of water. Most of the fish were on the small side. Looking ahead to salmon, it looks like the wind will die down for the opener on Saturday. The last time we were on the water, the salmon signs looked pretty good. There were lots of birds from the entrance to the whistle buoy and lots of bait in 40-50 fathoms.”

The Pacific halibut fishing has been really good this week reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. He said, “We’ve been able to get limits every day, but most of the fish have been on the small side. We’ve been fishing a mile north in 240 feet of water. The rockfish bite has been good as well, but the lingcod have been a little tougher to come by. The salmon opener is looking promising. Out in 240 feet of water there’s been lots of life. Birds, bait, whales and we’ve seen a few salmon on the surface. That’s probably where we’ll start on Saturday,” added Wilson.

Shelter Cove
Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing reports there’s been a pretty decent salmon bite around the whistle the last few days. “The water temps are about perfect, and more bait is starting to show up,” said Mitchell. We’ve been getting them mooching, but the trollers are doing well too. The fish have been a really good grade so far. The rockfish bite has been good around the Hat this week as well with the exception of lingcod, which have been a little tougher to come by lately. Looks like wind is going to blow for a few days.”

Crescent City
“All signs are pointing to a good salmon opener,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The water temps are good, and there’s lots of birds and bait. And quite a few salmon have been seen finning on the surface. The salmon seem to be in close too, with good signs around Round Rock. The rockfish bite has picked up as well, with boats getting easy limits of lings as well. Just a few California halibut have been caught, but that should get going soon,” Carson added.

Windy weather has limited ocean fishing to the early morning, but it isn’t taking anglers long to limit on rockfish and get a few lingcod reports Andy Martin, of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Bottom fishing has been very good close to the harbor,” said Martin. “Ocean salmon season doesn’t open until June 20. The surfperch action is at its peak right now as the fish have just begun spawning at Brookings-area beaches.”

Lower Rogue
Salmon fishing remains slow on the lower Rogue, mainly because of the amount of moss in the river according to Martin. “Baits must be continually reeled in and cleaned, limiting their effectiveness. Wild kings may now be kept on the Rogue. The bay has yet to produce any salmon,” said Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com